‘Beautiful China’ tourism pitch misfires amid smog

October 22, 2013 • Business

In this Tuesday, July 30, 2013 photo, a foreign tourist stands near a terracotta warrior replica as she poses for a photo at the Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses in Xi’an, in central China’s Shaanxi province. China’s new tourism slogan “Beautiful China” has been criticized by industry experts who say it illustrates a marketing problem that has led to a weakness in growth in foreign visitors over the past few years. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

BEIJING (AP) — Forget all the headlines about eye-watering pollution in Beijing and Shanghai — the Middle Kingdom’s latest tourism slogan invites visitors to “Beautiful China.”

Adorning buses and trains in cities such as London, the marketing effort has been derided as particularly inept at a time when record-busting smog has drawn attention to the environmental and health costs of China’s unfettered industrialization.

Like this year’s typically clunky theme for visitors “China Ocean Tourism Year,” the slogan highlights the tin ear of an industry that has ridden the coattails of China’s rapid economic growth and increased global prominence but failed to keep up with international travel trends.

“Beauty can be looked at in many different ways, but when you have all the stories about the pollution, and the air pollution in particular, people are not going to buy the fact that China is 100 percent beautiful,” said Alastair Morrison, a Beijing-based expert in tourism destination marketing and development.

China’s tourism industry has grown at a fast pace since the country began free market-style economic reforms three decades ago. In 2011, travel and tourism generated $644 billion, or Login to read more

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